Farmland Preservation

Washington County Farmland Preservation

PROGRAM OVERVIEW

Established in 1994, the Washington County Agricultural Land Preservation Program, also known as the farmland preservation program, purchases agricultural easements on productive farms in Washington County. Landowners retain private ownership of the property and may still use, lease, or sell the property. Any new owner shall abide by the terms of the easement.

AGRICULTURAL LAND PRESERVATION BOARD (ALPB)

The ALPB is a seven-member board appointed by the Washington County Commissioners. Current board members are Bill Iams, Chairman; Bob O’Brien, Vice Chairman; Jeremy Matinko, Treasurer; Bill Paxton; Wayne Hunnell; Earl Sadler; and Rich Shriver. 


FUNDING

Funding for the program comes from both the County and State. The total interest collected from the previous year’s County Clean and Green Rollback Tax Penalties is to be used for easement purchase or for monitoring and enforcement, or for conservation planning. The Washington County Commissioners certified $78,218.68 on February 3, 2022, and this amount was presented as the County’s contribution to receive a match from the State. The remainder of the funding comes from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through cigarette taxes, the Environmental Stewardship Fund, and other sources which totaled $637,695 for the 2022 Allocation of Funds.

PROGRAM STATUS

As of October 2022, there are 47 farms preserved in Washington County through the Washington County Agricultural Land Preservation Program. These farms total 7,200 acres. In Pennsylvania, there are 6,118 preserved farms in 58 participating counties: 616,713 acres total.

HOW TO APPLY

To apply for the agricultural land conservation easement program, a landowner must complete and submit an application prior to the annual deadline. Applications may be obtained from the Washington County Planning Commission, or from the Washington County website, https://www.co.washington.pa.us/173/Farmland-Preservation.

2023 APPLICATION PERIOD 

WASHINGTON COUNTY

FARMLAND PRESERVATION PROGRAM

Applications for the 2023 Washington County Agricultural Land Preservation Program are being accepted January 2 - September 30, 2023. The Agricultural Land Preservation Program is a state and county-run program that purchases development rights from landowners to protect farmland for future agricultural production. 

The minimum criteria for eligibility: 

  1. Located in a duly recorded Agricultural Security Area.
  2. Contiguous acreage of 50 acres or more, or 10 acres or more contiguous to a previously preserved farm.  
  3. 50% of soils available for agricultural production are in Soil Capability Classes I – IV.
  4. Contain the greater of 50% cropland, pasture, or grazing land.
  5. Have an approved conservation plan and exhibit good land stewardship and BMP’s. 

Landowners retain private ownership of the property and may still use, lease, or sell the property. Any new owner must abide by the terms of the easement, which limits subdivision, non-agricultural development, and other uses inconsistent with commercial agriculture. 

To apply for the agricultural land conservation easement program, a landowner must complete and submit an application prior to the annual deadline. Applications may be obtained from the Washington County Planning Commission, or from the Washington County website, https://www.co.washington.pa.us/173/Farmland-Preservation.

For more information, contact Caroline Sinchar at 724-228-6811 or sincharc@co.washington.pa.us

Completed applications should be submitted to: 

Caroline Sinchar

Washington County Planning Commission

100 W. Beau Street, Suite 701

Washington, PA  15301